There is a concept called decision fatigue, which describes how people struggle with their choices after making too many decisions in a given day. According to social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister there is a decline in the quality of decisions that are made by a person after many decisions have been made in a row. You start to resist making any changes or any decisions, no matter how big or small they are.
In other words, our ability to make good choices deteriorates after an extended period of decision making. When you're faced with making multiple decisions for an extended period of time, it's easy to make bad choices, or to avoid making any decisions at all.
The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue in that you may not be consciously aware of being tired, though you’re low on mental energy.
One shortcut is to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver. Instead of deciding, we may opt to do nothing. In the short term, avoiding making a decision may ease the mental strain for a moment, though it may create bigger problems in the long run.
Preventing Burnout from Decision Fatigue
Make Your Most Important Decisions in the Morning
Your mind is the clearest during the morning hours because you’re not worn out from the day’s activities yet. Consider taking some time while you are going over your most important tasks for the day to make any important decisions that are scheduled to come your way.
Choose Simple Options for Less Important Decisions
For the lower priority items on your to-do list, go for the simpler option. Which option makes you feel less overwhelmed? Which is the easiest thing to do right now?
Don't Make Big Decisions When You're Hungry
When you’re hungry, your stomach produces a hormone called ghrelin, which negatively impacts decision making. This appetite-increasing hormone decreases impulse control and makes it difficult to resist impulses and quick temptations.
Limit and Simplify Your Choices
If you are faced with too many decisions (like what to eat, wear, or watch on TV), narrow it down to three choices at a time. If you can't make a decision within the three choices that you have limited yourself to, choose another three options to consider.
For example, when looking at the menu at a new restaurant and trying to decide what you want to eat, narrow the menu down to three choices at a time until you are able to decide what's best for you. This will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed with all of the information in front of you.
Remember to De-Stress
Take time throughout the day to decompress, whether it’s going for a walk, meditating, doing hypnosis, taking a shower, or just “vegging out” for a bit. Recognize when you begin to feel overwhelmed, and understand that your mind and body is telling you to take a break.🍥